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10.17.07

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This Week's Revivals

By Richard von Busack


Movie Times The Nightmare Before Christmas
(1993) Tim Burton's charming stop-action musical about Jack Skellington and friends is now in 3-D. (Opens Oct 19 at selected theaters valleywide.)

Movie Times Niles Film Museum
Regularly scheduled silent movies. Tonight: Charlie Chaplin in The Adventurer (1917); a bit of a variation on The Count of Monte Cristo, with Charlie escaping from jail and infiltrating a swank party. To a reporter, Chaplin explained the effectiveness of dropping some ice cream down a lady's neck: "One of the things most quickly learned in theatrical work is that people as a whole get satisfaction from seeing the rich get the worst of things." Also: Harold Lloyd in Number Please (1922), in which The Boy tracks down a lost dog at Pacific Ocean Park. In Hard Luck (1921) a suicide attempt accidentally lands Buster Keaton a job as a sportsman's club. And Laurel and Hardy in Two Tars (1928), a post–Fleet Week entertainment: "two Dreadnoughts from the Battleship Oregon" try to enjoy some shore-leave but are plagued by a defective gumball machine and a traffic jam. One of their very best. Frederick Hodges at the piano. (Plays Oct 20 at 7:30 in Fremont at the Edison Theater, 37417 Niles Blvd. in Fremont. Nilesfilmmuseum.org.) (RvB)

Movie Times Scarface
(1983) After years of market research, and repeated instances of being caught with their pants down, the powers that be cooked up a counterculture that expressed every value they cherished, while at the same time seeming edgy and urban. It was consumerist. It was selfish. It was, best of all, violent. Thus, on any city bus, legions of young "rebels" covered in more rhinestone-studded dollar signs that Ayn Rand wore on her underdrawers. Thus every mall stuffed with ignorant, apathetic human shrines to the Ricky Ricardoish Tony Montana. Essential to the cult: this really bad movie. It's a cynical, coked-out, ridiculously self-justifying remake of the far more inventive Howard Hawks classic from 1932. Al Pacino is the lizard-eyed Marielista drug baron who takes over the Florida racket; Michelle Pfeiffer is his daft blonde floozy, who gets scruples too late. (Plays Oct 19-20 at midnight in Palo Alto at the Aquarius Theater.) (RvB)

Movie Times Sunset Blvd./Some Like It Hot
(1950/1959) Billy Wilder's flamboyant, cruelly funny and creepy satire of Hollywood oddity in the form of Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a discarded piece of old movie bric-a-brac. Seeking one last close-up, Desmond wraps herself around a screenwriter (William Holden) who underestimates the aging star's hunger. Desmond's mansion and swimming pool were also used as locations for Rebel Without a Cause; Norma's movie clips are from Erich von Stroheim's butchered film Queen Kelly. BILLED WITH Some Like It Hot. Two half-frozen and broke Chicago musicians of the Jazz Age (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) accidentally witness a gangster massacre. Disguised as women in an all-girl orchestra, they hit the road for Florida. Their new pal in the orchestra is Sugar Cane (Marilyn Monroe, never better), a ukelele player with a weakness for saxophonists. Lemmon and comedian Joe E. Brown wrap up the film with a famous last line. This capping bit of dialogue seems to be a message to the future about how the years to come would thaw out the frozen differences between the genders. The women's disguises change the attitudes of the men, giving them a new perspective and secret knowledge. The last great screwball comedy and probably Wilder's best picture. (RvB) (Plays Oct 20-23 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)


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